Data released from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, shows that drunk driving deaths increased from 9,865 in 2011 to 10,322 in 2012. This is right after a milestone was met last year when the death toll for drunk driving fell beneath 10,000. This is the first time in six years that drunk driving fatalities has increased instead of declined, and worse, it increased by nearly a whopping 5 percent.
On a broader level, traffic deaths increased by 3.3 percent to 33,561 from 2011. These numbers make drunk driving fatalities even more distressing. It is being argued that more vigilant action needs to be taken to help reduce drunk driving, while using drunk driving countermeasures like the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which has had promising effects. It is also being argued that states across America should buckle down with more laws that require drunk drivers to be convicted, and for an ignition interlock device to be used.
According to Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, since the introduction of interlocks, the DUI traffic death rates have fallen to less than 100 in Kansas in 2012. In Kansas, a law was passed in 2011 that required convicted DUI offenders to have interlocks installed in their vehicles after the first offense. Before, a person had to be convicted twice before requiring an interlock system installation. The interlock system has an in-car breathalyzer that has to be used before the car can be started. If a certain level of alcohol is detected, then the car will not start.
The amount of Kansas drunk driving deaths in 2012 was 94, which was a decline of 17.5 percent from 114 drunk driving deaths in 2011. In 2010, the death toll for drunk driving accidents was at 138, a 17.3 percent reduction. It is being argued that the Legislature should remove the 2015 sunset, which will remove the interlock law, and instead it should become a permanent mandate. Kansas and three other states wrote a clause to make the interlock statute only a three-year mandate.
States that have shown the opposite effect, with increased drunk driving deaths, include Illinois (30 percent to 35 percent), Georgia (22 percent to 25 percent), Maine (17 percent to 30 percent) and Nebraska (25 percent to 35 percent). As of July 2013, the five states with the most DUI arrests include California (214,828), Texas (90, 066), Florida (61,852), Pennsylvania (53,319) and North Carolina (49,599).
To put this all into perspective, if you placed all of the people who admitted to driving under the influence in their own state, it would be the fifth largest in the U.S. Here is a list of other startling stats:
- In the U.S. it costs taxpayers $132 billion annually for drunk driving (in 2010).
- Between 50 percent and 75 percent of drunk drivers continue driving with a suspended license.
- On average, drunk drivers drive intoxicated around 80 times before getting caught.
- Drunk driving is highest for people between 21 and 25, making up 23.4 percent of drunk driving.
Looking at this data clearly shows why drunk driving deaths are on the rise instead of on the decline.